Friday, March 23 , 2018, 6:16 am | Fair 49º


Paul Mann: Hip Hop Innovator DJ Spooky Goes Classical with ‘Sinfonia Antarctica’

There is a great debate over the legendary belief that the Eskimo language contains hundreds of words to describe snow. Some linguists would argue that there are many of the same words in English, and that the various dialects of Eskimo are difficult to translate. But Tuesday night, at UCSB’s Campbell Hall, there was little debate that multimedia artist DJ Spooky presented infinitely more ways to see and even hear snow.

Paul D. Miller creates his own classic film.
Paul D. Miller creates his own classic film.

Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky, is probably most famous for his remix of D.W. Griffith’s silent film classic, The Birth of a Nation. I first saw the shocking original film, as a requirement for a history class, at the University of South Florida in the 1970s. Being a naïve freshman, I was particularly perplexed at how the popular old southern professor, who taught the class, defended this blatantly racist film, ripe with revisionist history.

DJ Spooky’s Rebirth of a Nation, on the other hand, is a brilliant examination of how black Americans have been portrayed historically, in the media. Masterfully mixing hip hop beats with the old footage and new choreography, Miller created his own classic film.

Miller is famous for many other accomplishments, as well, including author, film score composer, music professor and virtual inventor of a type of DJ mixing called “illbient.”

Miller brought his latest multimedia work, Terra Nova: Sinfona Antarctica to Santa Barbara. The production came complete with a classical musical ensemble, featuring UCSB student musicians Katie Waltman, on violin; Dimitry Olevsky, on violin; Kate Mendenhall, on cello; and Sonia Tripathi, on piano. Miller traveled to the Antarctic to record the natural sounds of ice and snow, blowing, cracking and melting. He mixes live natural sounds with electronic music and the live classical ensemble, and synchronizes the sounds with a 70-minute multiscreen visual orgy of ice. The visuals include spectacular arctic landscapes, ultra magnified scientific film, 3-D graphs and charts, and old black-and-white documentary film of a 1959 Soviet expedition to the heart of the Arctic circle. The result is a multimedia orgy of evocative images, that challenges viewers to create their own linear conclusions about the meaning and significance of the piece.

Click here for Jeff Moehlis’ review.

— L. Paul Mann is a Noozhawk contributor.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >